Partner Yoga is a fun and feel-good way to connect with friends and loved ones. Doing yoga with a partner has many benefits such as learning how to trust more, stretching deeply with support, improving communication skills, and generating lots of laughs. Carve out some time, set up some mats and grab a partner so we can get this party started.
Start off seated back-to-back in a comfortable cross-legged position. Close your eyes and begin to breathe deeply through the nose. Notice your partner’s breath and see if you can both coordinate your breathing so the inhales and the exhales match up. Try to inhale until your lungs are completely full and exhale until they’re completely empty. After a few rounds of breathing open your eyes and decide who is taking the first backbend. Both people raise their arms up overhead with Person 1 leaning back while Person 2 leans forward into a seated forward bend. As Person 1 leans back more they plant their feet on the ground leaning into a backbend that resembles reverse table pose. Person 1 can reach the arms straight overhead or hold on to opposite elbows to stretch the shoulders and chest more. Person 2 can walk the arms forward for a nice stretch in the spine. It’s important to talk to each other about how you feel as you move into the poses so you can both have a good experience.
There are many ways to do joint forward bends and backbends, but this is one of our favorites at Buddhi Yoga La Jolla. Person 1 comes into shoulder stand by starting on their backs and taking the legs over the torso as in plough pose. Using the hands to support the low back, extend the legs up high and create a straight line from the heels all the way down to the shoulders (shoulder stand pose). Person 2 comes into a kneeling position with the heels snuggled up against Person 1’s shoulders/upper back. Person 2 reaches the arms up and catches Person 1 by the ankles. Person 2 starts leaning forward into child’s pose, taking Person 1 with them so they come into a backbend with their head lightly touching the floor as in supported bridge pose. This is a great way to open the chest and shoulders while Person 2 gets a back stretch in child’s pose.
One of the best ways to decompress the spine, open the chest, and stretch the psoas muscle all at the same time is to let yourself fall into a standing backbend. Start standing back-to-back with a friend with both people reaching the arms overhead. Person 1 starts to bend the knees to try to snuggle their hips below Person 2’s hips (this is important to get the right leverage). Person 1 then holds on to Person 2 by the wrists and begins to come into a standing forward fold while Person 2’s feet begin to rise off the ground, coming into a backbend up against their partner’s standing forward fold. The key to doing this smoothy has to do with trust. Person 2 has to trust that their partner will support them and the more they can let go of fear and allow their bodies to surrender, the better it will feel for both people. Person 1 (being the supporter of the backbend) has to brace themselves by keeping the knees bent, placing the hands over the knees for extra support, and rounding the back slightly so Person 1 feels a nice “rounding out” for the natural curve of the backbend. To come out Person 1 slowly presses back into a standing position, placing their partner back down on the ground gently.
Now that you’re ready to take it to the next level, Person 1 starts on their back with their legs up in the air and knees bent. Person 2 stands in front of the extended legs and places Person 1’s feet on their hip bones. Both people reach to connect with each other’s hands while Person 2 leans into Person 1. The supporter on the bottom then begins to straighten their legs, taking Person 2 off the ground. Once you both reach the right position (Person 1 looks like they are making an “L” position on the ground) Person 2 can play with releasing one hand and reaching back for the foot. Take your time with these poses and if you’re interested in learning more Acro Yoga try out our upcoming Partner Yoga Workshops in March.